Monday, November 5, 2012

One Planet, Do the Math

One Planet Living & Do the Math are web sites that present the less sunny side of our climate situation, of our relationship to the earth. Check them out - I'm in that process now. I have written elsewhere in this blog about how to calculate your energy usage at home and then to minimize it. These sites provide the bigger picture and they may be important, because, after all, it adds up.

If the entire world were to use the same quantities of energy and resources that we do in America, according to One Planet Living, we would need earth to be 5 times bigger. If we're talking about surface area it would look like this:

Bill McKibben has launched another project called and here is part of that FAQ:

Can you explain the math, please?
Sure. To grasp the seriousness of the climate crisis, you just need to do a little math. Fossil fuel corporations have 5 times more oil and coal and gas in known reserves than climate scientists think is safe to burn. We have to keep 80% of their fossil fuels underground to keep the earth in livable shape.Here are the three numbers you shouldn’t forget:2 degrees — Almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be unsafe. We have already raised the temperature .8°C, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the climate dice are loaded for both devastating floods and drought.
565 gigatons — Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. Computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 levels now, the temperature would still rise another 0.8 degrees above the 0.8 we’ve already warmed, which means that we’re already 3/4s of the way to the 2 degree target.
2,795 gigatons — The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of London financial analysts and environmentalists, estimates that proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies, equals about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain 2 degrees of warming.